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Supporters of Alameda DA Pamela Price rally, blast calls for special election

Pamela Price recall supporters collect enough signatures, call for special election
Pamela Price recall supporters collect enough signatures, call for special election 03:50

A group of Alameda County residents and community leaders held a rally Friday in Oakland to support District Attorney Pamela Price and urge the county's Board of Supervisors not to schedule a special election for her recall.

The gathering comes on the heels of similar events held by recall proponents who want supervisors to set a special election date prior to the November general election.

Opponents—including Asian Americans for Progressive Alameda, the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network—say special elections are too expensive and tend to be characterized by low voter turnout, which is a perceived advantage for recall organizers.

Instead, they argue, the recall should be placed on the November general election ballot to save money and to ensure that as many voters as possible have a chance to weigh in on Price's future.

"The Board of Supervisors would be out of hand wasting county money that's needed for other services in order to hold this special election," said Wilson Riles, a member of the Oakland Police Commission who spoke at Friday's rally in front of the Alameda County Administration Building in Oakland.

The county's top election officer, Tim Dupuis, has reported that a special election would cost the county between $15 million and $20 million.

At the board's next meeting on Tuesday, Dupuis will present supervisors with his official certification that recall supporters gathered enough valid signatures to place the issue on a ballot.

After that, the board will have 14 days to set an election date, but if they fail to do so, Dupuis says he would have five days to step in and set a date.

In addition to their objections to a special election, recall opponents say claims about crime made by Price's critics are false and that they don't understand the role the county's top prosecutor plays in the criminal justice system.

Riles said Price isn't responsible for the way crime numbers go up and down periodically, a phenomenon he said is more heavily influenced by how effective law enforcement agencies are at completing investigations and making arrests.

"Crime is not a problem that can be put on Pamela Price," he said.

Also, Price supporters say the effort to remove her is part of a broader trend of progressive elected officials being targeted by wealthy conservative groups that can spend large amounts of money to dominate local media landscapes. 

"I've been appalled by the media, the way the media has portrayed her," said Rivka Polatnick, a member of the Protect the Win campaign formed to defeat the recall.

Polatnick said Price is a woman of integrity and ethics and a devoted champion to victims of injustice.

"We don't hear about all the accomplishments she's made for public safety, not to mention that she's a D.A. who actually is finally taking on the racism in the criminal justice system," Polatnick said. 

Pro-Price groups also say recall organizers broke the rules by using alleged "dirty tricks" during the signature gathering phase and that Dupuis actually missed the deadline to complete his review of the signatures in order to place the question on a ballot.

"The violence in Oakland started before Price became D.A.," said Elaine Peng, president of Asian Americans for Progressive Alameda. "It's not just Oakland, it's a nationwide trend due to the pandemic, school closures and more guns." 

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